What challenges does HR need to tackle?

Written by
Changeboard Team

02 Jul 2010

02 Jul 2010 • by Changeboard Team

The role of HR

HR has a vital role to play within a business. As the function that's responsible for finding, keeping and nurturing the best talent, not only can the right professional add value to an organisation, but can also offer the business much more than simply implementing transactional processes. However, for HR professionals to reach their full potential, businesses need to share and explain their organisational strategy and objectives and ensure the HR function is fully aligned and supportive of this.

Proving the value of HR

First and foremost, to prove their validity, senior HR professionals must demonstrate how they are adding value and convince the board members of the vital role they play in attracting and cultivating talent within the business. Crucial to this is demonstrating an in-depth knowledge of the business they are operating in, showing that they have a thorough understanding of the issues and Challenges it's facing, as well as having a clear working knowledge of the organisation itself.

HR commercial acumen

Similarly, HR professionals need to demonstrate a good grasp of the companys financials; particularly in this economic climate, strong business acumen is vital. This comes back to the HRs understanding of the business - pragmatic and workable solutions can only be offered if the HR has invested time in thoroughly researching what the organisation does, what its good at, identifying business Challenges and any areas of improvement and then tackling these in the appropriate business language.

For example, one HR professional we know analysed how the business was treating the contractual notice period and noted that the majority of employees were placed on garden leave. This system was subsequently changed and the notice period was reduced, delivering significant savings to the business.

HR needs to walk the floor

Conducting regular reviews of benefit offerings and providers and taking a closer look at their service levels and costs can achieve savings for the business. The bottom line is that HR professionals need to spend time in the business, walking and talking with senior level staff and managers and not hiding away in a back office, offering great theory.

Recruitment & retention

In the last year or so, most businesses have seen a decrease in their attrition rates due to the economic climate. HR professionals should capitalise on this situation to make sure that the business is now in a strong position to recruit and retain the very best people. Interestingly, during a pilot scheme, one internal recruitment team we work with was able to prove that the employees that they recruited stayed with the organisation for longer and those in a sales environment billed sooner than colleagues recruited directly by the line manager.

HR needs to be the goal keepers

Most importantly, HRs need to be ready for when the market turns and must already be considering how to recruit, reward, monitor success as well as recognise and develop talent. These areas are and always will be top of mind for any business but, more often than not, they're considered to be HRs problem. In this scenario, an HR practitioner who really adds value to the business will provide the necessary tools and expertise to ensure that an organisation recruits and retains the right people.

However, the business must be supportive of HR priorities and work collaboratively to develop the necessary initiatives and strategies to take the business forwards. Again, all of the above relies on HRs having a keen grasp of the business, so as to be able to offer the right solutions.

HR to get on the board

Furthermore, the HR function must operate transparently and openly share its objectives and priorities with the wider business. It's imperative that, as experts in their field, they continually monitor, review and improve their offer. Sharing HR initiatives, as well as successes and failures, is integral to their role within the business and to securing buy-in both at board level and from other teams and departments internally.
Ultimately, HR professionals should not be afraid to Challenge the business, but they must earn the respect of their colleagues in order to Challenge the status quo successfully. The only way to achieve this is by demonstrating how they can and do actually add value and make a clear and positive impact to the bottom line.